29 June 2007
---A) An island surrounded by salt water.
---B) An island surrounded by indifference.
2) Puerto Rico is the U.S.'s:
---A) Fifth-best retail client.
---B) Best economic organ donor
3) Puerto Rico's status is:
---A) A joke.
---B) A joke at Our expense.
4) Puerto Ricans think they they are:
---A) Wanted by Americans.
---B) Wanted by Congress.
5) Puerto Ricans idolize:
---B) Crooked politicians.
6) For what's going wrong, Puerto Ricans blame:
---A) Other people.
7) Puerto Rican politics is a combination of:
---A) Brain-dead monkeys and their supporters.
---B) Brainless pigs and their supporters.
8) Puerto Rico's educational system is:
---A) A dumpster.
---B) A landfill.
9) Puerto Rico's health reform is:
---A) A morgue.
---B) A cemetery.
10) Puerto Rico's much-needed progressive leadership will come from:
The Jenius Has Spoken.
27 June 2007
Ever since I saw My first episode of Connections, I have been a fan of science historian/populist James Burke. Burke is currently developing a website called Knowledge Web, a hyper-Wikipedia of interconnected science, thought and history to enhance learning and scientific creativity.
The problem, it seems to me, with modern education is that it's 17th century education. It's still alive and kicking too much. We take little kids and we spend their entire lives preparing them to be successful by learning more and more about less and less. In the present century, our brains know a fantastic amount about almost nothing…
It seems to me - and I risk the ire of every academic - that taking knowledge from this academic point of view is doing society a disservice in the sense that what we need in the next 100 years… is how to get people to think creatively. It is no longer a sign of intelligence that someone can remember things. It should no longer be a test of things if they can give the right answer. Because the right answer is often the least creative one and the one least likely to get you flak from your tutor. You see, in creative thinking you often make mistakes. If you make mistakes in specialist reductionist learning you fail and if you don't get the degree you are unintelligent. Well, that's self-evidently nonsense!
So if remembering things is no longer as valuable as it once was, what is? Here’s the answer, from the increasingly-useful The Long Tail blog:
(I)n a world of infinite choice, content is only as valuable as your ability to find it. (Emphasis added.) They call that "context and aggregation", and it's what both Google and your favorite blogger do when the filter the web according to a narrow lens, be it your expressed search term or their own sensibility.
But does Our educational system see this? Of course not. Do Our teachers embrace technology so they can use it as a 21st century tool? Of course not. In the current Webtech world, they are Neanderthals and the “highly-evolved” are kids and teenagers. So what does that imply? Here’s the conclusion, from the Connectivism blog:
Students should drive curriculum. This is a challenging concept. Partly for educators, partly for student, partly for society… A pure self-guided model of learning is not one that matches well with how academic institutions are structured. The learner's exploration of curriculum is where we can innovate.
Will this happen? Pigs will melt in hell first…unless We begin making the changes needed in Our own way, bypassing the fossilized mis-educational system and creating Our own learning environment. The tools are there, the knowledge to make it work is available…what’s needed is the will to truly secure Our children’s future instead of watching it slide down a filthy drain.
The Jenius Has Spoken.
25 June 2007
Here's one of them. And in that serendipitous way Life has, it came as a possible answer to something I've been struggling with the past few days. Not out of the tunnel yet, but there's light down yonder.
Top 5 Ways to Build a Wonderful Life
May 9th, 2007 by John Wesley
1. Live Below Your Means
There will always be temptation to forsake the future for immediate gratification. We all want to buy that new piece of technology, treat ourselves to an expensive night on the town, or take out a loan for the flashy car we can’t afford. It might feel great at the time but rash spending hurts a lot later on.
Enjoy life’s simple pleasures and save as much as you can. Expensive things don’t create lasting happiness and security. Careful spending will bring you greater leisure and enjoyment in the long run.
2. Put Your Money to Work
Saving is great, but to make the most of your money you need to put it to work. Good investments can be the difference between retiring in your 40’s or in your 60’s.
A post today at The Simple Dollar really got me thinking. According to Trent’s projections, if a person in their early 20’s invests 20% of their income in an S&P index fund, the interest they earn will equal their current salary when they reach their early 40’s. They could retire without a drop in income!
Wise investing is the surest path to financial independence and it’s something everyone can work on. It’s definitely an area I’ll be devoting more attention to in my personal life and on this blog.
3. Educate Yourself
To be happy we need continuous growth. The best way to grow is life long education. This doesn’t mean you need to pursue a doctorate or spend 2 hours reading every day. Self education can be anything that takes you out of your comfort zone. The important part is keeping an open mind and searching for fresh ideas and perspectives.
Education builds over time. It might feel like the bits of wisdom you acquire don’t mean much, but over the years they add up to form a wiser, kinder, more interesting person.
4. Develop Lasting Personal Relationships
Suppose you had everything you wanted. Would you be happy without anyone to share it with? The personal relationships we develop with friends and family members are the greatest source of happiness in our lives. Don’t forget about them.
Taking the time to cultivate and enjoy personal relationships is essential to longterm happiness. Without the people you care about you’ll probably be miserable, no matter how successful you become.
5. Work Towards a Dream You’re Passionate About
Even if your life isn’t perfect, you can always build towards a goal you’re passionate about. If you aren’t building towards something, you’re probably stagnating. When this happens to me I start to feel like a victim trapped by my own life. The best way to reverse this is working towards a goal.
We can’t control everything about our lives, but working towards a goal gives us something positive to focus on and lays the foundation for future success. No matter what your passion is, get out there and start doing something. As Lao Tzu said, even a journey of 1,000 miles begins with a single step.
Bonus: 6. Stay in Shape
You only get one body. Once it’s been ruined there isn’t much you can do about it. Exercise to keep the rust off. Avoid excessive consumption of damaging substances and unhealthy foods. It may feel like terrible self denial at the time but enjoying good health in your later years is worth the sacrifice.
Note: This post is part of the Problogger Top 5 Group Writing Project.
The Jenius Has Quoted.
24 June 2007
Unlike the hurricane season, the political disaster season is not limited to a certain part of the year. Because We have a full-time legislature (no capital letter for they do not merit it) for no other reason than to give the blood-sucking Fools 24/7 access to the public aorta, the potential for seeing these scum-sucking vermin spin out of control and create another train wreck in Puerto Rico's progress is highly likely.
Here's where it might come from:
---The tax revenues are shown to not even come close to what was expected and needed, forcing a move to a lower budget, a tax increase, more extraconstitutional debt, bond values dropping a little to rock-bottom and 4,763 versions of "This is for the good of Puerto Rico," all of which are lies.
---The primary between Pedro Stupid Rosselló and Luis "Larval Jellyfish" Fortuño creates a whirlwind of party moves that spill over into bills written to (a) pave the way for Stupid Rosselló to increase the rate of return to stateside companies and (b) enhance Larval Jellyfish's chances for spearheading a Congressional push for a status resolution by--what else?--increasing the rate of return for stateside companies. The difference will be where the major push is angled: Stupid's angle will be economic and Larval's will be political. Either way, We get pronged.
---The economic and organizational collapse of the local Education Department, the largest budget item in Puerto Rico, will begin with frantic finger-pointing and hand-wringing (neat trick, perfected locally in the 1970s), scale up to massive wailing by the guilty parties, be fanned white-hot by a media who can't spell, can't speak and can't think (thus proving to be perfect specimens of local education) and spill over into an economic Tunguska when the Federal millions lost are quantified. We're talking "scorched earth," for there's really nothing worth saving in that cesspool.
The Jenius Has Spoken.
20 June 2007
Are you kidding Me?
Oh, and as a second-place afterthought, the Grand Jury decides today whether Jellyfish should be investigated for illegal campaign contributions. Or not.
This on the day I discover I'm the Número Uno on "hydrocephalic media" in Polish Google. Talk about convergence...
Here's a question: Who the hell cares if Jellyfish had his face tweaked? If you said "I do" then you're an idiot. No, more than that, you're a bottom-feeding idiot in the group the media likes to call "The people," as in "The people have a right to know (really, really stupid things.)"
If you're one of those and you're still reading this, go away. You'll find nothing here but scorn and contempt. Of you. You idiot.
Not only is El Nuevo Dia showing how pathetically bereft it is of any idea of relevance, it also shows how amazingly gullible We are as media consumers, for I know--beyond a shadow of a doubt--that more words and time will be wasted on the "facelift controversy" than on truly analyzing what the meaning and ramifications of this investigation are.
Remember, this Grand Jury is evaluating whether to formally indict a sitting (reclining) governor, former head beggar in and pseudo-member of Congress, who received election-related contributions outside of the legal stipulations. And no, not "allegedly" because the whole matter turns on either a strict or loose interpretation of the law: Jellyfish received the contributions and he has acknowledged that. What is left to decide is if those "gifts" were legally and/or ethically wrong.
So let the idiots weigh in on nips and tucks and Vitamin E. In any case, I'd be more interested in discussing the possible surgery to implant a backbone in the Jellyfish or a brain in El Nuevo Dia.
The Jenius Has Spoken.
18 June 2007
Yesterday was the first Father's Day without his presence in My life. I have books I want to share with him, anecdotes to tell, baseball happenings to analyze and debate, successes and failures to discuss and just things I want to bounce between Us. Only he's gone and I have only Myself.
That's probably the hardest part: Taking on My own, singular identity. As much as the process is started for an adult to emerge, it really isn't complete until the parent is gone, for only then do you know what's yours, what was his and what was inseparable. It's been a few months now and I'm only now starting to understand who I am...now.
My son mentions his Grandpa a lot. We talk about him, or mainly, We talk about his death. I know he's trying to come to terms with having Grandpa there--and then not. He probably also senses that I haven't come to terms with it either, but that I'm willing to share with him what little I understand so as to help him along the way.
Maybe I'm reading too much into it and he's only asking because he wants to make sure I know he hasn't forgotten. But I doubt it. From the topics We share to the things We do to the jokes We tell, Grandpa is there. Even if My son, in his rumbly-tumbly childhood world, forgets his Grandpa, he'll be there. And if in some dim future I lose the ability to remember, it won't make a difference, for in Me there is and always will be, My Dad.
Even so, I miss him.
The Jenius Has Spoken.
15 June 2007
---Is unicamerality actually needed? The basic motivation behind the unicameral movement is to punish Fools and reduce the crass waste of money they and their anally-fixated parasites represent. Here's a notion: Vote better.
---Isn't Our government too incestuous to work? Like a highly-dysfunctional family, Our Fools and their craven minions are often daisy-chaining and hand washing each other at the same time. It's an inbreeding program where the obvious and almost total focus of attention is each other rather than "the public good." Like a Faulkner novel, but with dumber and more evil lackwits.
---If We don't choose a status and won't let the U.S. do it (because they don't want to), then why even bother discussing the damn thing?
---Why is Our economy riding on less than 40% of the total workforce? Because We don't give a damn about it. The "economy" is perceived as "not Me" and thus is irrelevant. All We care about is "Me and Mine" and the Devil take the hindmost. The Devil is, has and will continue to do so until We lounge in economic Hell. Oh wait, We're pretty much already there.
---Why do We pretend to care about education while acting against it? Words versus actions. Lip service versus sabotage. One says "Reading is fundamental." The other is not bothering to read anything. One says "We need education to compete in the global economy." The other is stealing, undermining, misattending and covering up any potential seedling of education growth. One says high tech. The other introduces Game Boys into classrooms...to avoid teaching. Hypocrisy is the new coin of the realm.
--- Haven't We had enough of all this crap? Apparently not.
The Jenius Has Spoken.
14 June 2007
The Jenius Has Spoken.
13 June 2007
As My brain buzzed trying to find an answer, I heard Myself say "PH level." My dad, sitting behind Me, said with just a small trace of sarcasm "Really?" I turned and told him I knew what a ph level was and that the baby and the wino were different. I didn't have the complete answer, but I was sure I was on the right track.
Spoiler alert! Spoiler alert!
Aside from tooting My own horn, that anecdote points to a situation that occurs far more frequently than people seem to acknowledge. (No, not deadly space-borne viruses.) I mean connectivity, the interrelationship between situations and events.
It often seems that people blithely go through their lives aware of only a small part of the world. Let's call it selective tunnel vision, a handy tool for dealing with Life's ever-increasing complexity. But in that selection, people have apparently lost the ability to see "the big picture," the overall montage of evident and underlying causes and effects. And by losing this ability, they have also forfeited their ability to make quantum leaps, both mental and situational.
I may have made a large leap there, so let Me clarify: By not seeing and understanding a larger array of information, it becomes more difficult to make progress, whether in thoughts or actions. As Einstein put it, more succintly: "Problems cannot be solved by the level of thinking that created them."
So where does that leave Us, the folks who tune into Channel 1 Degree and keep on trucking? It leaves Us unable to see the true roots of problems and thus remain unable to solve them to Our benefit.
Happens at the individual level and at the societal level, and every level in between. For a person, education, self-help books or even therapy can transform Limbo to Life. At the corporate or organizational level, training, consultants and even outside pressures can transform lackluster performance to high-flying effectiveness. But what can do that for a society? What process or person can transform a lost society into a progressive one?
You know the answer. You may not have it complete, but you--and I--know We're on the right track.
How can We know? What's the "ph level" indicator that tells Us We're on the right track? The realizaton that We are still standing while the rest are not.
Too vague for you? May be, but you know it, you see it, you feel it and thus you agree with it...becaue the rest of Us--Them--haven't a clue.
The Jenius Has Spoken.
11 June 2007
My music collection features half a dozen Nat "King" Cole CDs, songs he sung in English and a charmingly rounded Spanish. On My MP3 player I have 75 of his songs and I'll make room for more.
Michael Jordan is My contemporary, a player I watched while We were both in college and followed through his meteoric rise to become a global icon. The season he and his Bulls won 72 games--a record--I watched 81 of those games, including a stunning Christmas Day loss to the then-woeful Dallas Mavericks, a game My good friend Don Muchow had the pleasure of experiencing in person.
Then from the outskirts of sports--amateur golf--came the phenomenon of Tiger Woods. I watched his first Masters win, a jaw-dropping 12-stroke lead over the outmatched pack. I've watched him win over three dozen tournaments, including all of his 12 major wins, cheering him on. Just today My son and I discussed Tiger's improbable "edge of the cup" putt that fell in to help win his fourth Masters, a moment so improbably exciting that I practically leapt to My feet while Kaleb was on My lap. Scared him, but he remembers that day and follows Tiger almost as avidly as I do. (And yet, We don't really like golf.)
You might have noticed that these four men, who form a tetralogy in My life, are black. One Puerto Rican, two American and one a racial hybrid spanning two continents. And for those who've never seen Me, I'm not black.
I don't see these men as "men," devoid of racial characteristics: I see them as black men, the same way I see other people and notice their skin color, too. My admiration for them has no relationship to their skin color, but rather as the product of their talent, determination, excellence and character.
Except in Tiger's case, where I cheer with an added trace of gleeful satisfaction, knowing that in the lily-white world of golf, Tiger's success is most certainly a thumb in the eye of idiots who think skin color makes the man or woman.
I admire other men, and plenty of women. A partial list would include Willie Mays, Cal Ripken, Jr., Larry Bird, Jack Nicklaus, Patsy Cline, Meryl Streep, Indira Gandhi and J.K. Rowling. They each appeal to aspects of My personality and interests. But what My son sees, from My actions and words, is admiration of men who don't look like Me. The message he is getting, the message I send since childhood, is that skin color means very little and that what a man or woman does and stands for is the most valuable criteria possible.
Someday, maybe when Tiger's close to 90 PGA victories and his 24th major, I'll tell My son that part of My cheering Tiger on is about enjoying someone else's needless discomfort. It's not how I should feel about Tiger's excellence, but I do and there's no sense in hiding it. By then, I hope My son has seen the stupidity of racism and--maybe--My own stupidity for sneering at it in others.
But for now, amidst an Island of My own people who, to a larger extent than We care to admit, carry racism in their back pockets, I want My son to know that he can admire everyone who lives up to his standards, regardless of skin color. I may not be a great father, but I truly believe that despite that, I can still teach him a Great Truth.
The Jenius Has Spoken.
08 June 2007
What purpose do We have as Puerto Ricans? What over-riding objective do We have?
It can be argued that very few countries or nations have a single purpose or objective. It can even be argued (more easily) that countries and nations seldom have anything like a single purpose or objective.
And yet, countries and nations do have purposes and objectives; that much is clear. They stand for something, they have positions on matters of importance to them, even if We don't agree with that position.
So given that, what are Puerto Rico's purposes and objectives?
Hear that silence? Yeah, so do I.
The Jenius Has Spoken.
06 June 2007
1) We let politicians create their own world. Beginning in the 1980s, accelerating rapidly in the 1990s and absolutely gone berserk since Y2K, The Fools have been walling themselves off from the rest of Us, sometimes literally, as in creating enclosed neighborhoods for themselves and their ilk. The Fools act like they own the whole shooting match, and to a large extent they do, simply because We let them get away with that idiocy.
2) We focus on grades rather than learning. Oooh, Our kids have straight A averages, but they're learning less and less of what's needed to be a success in the globalized chaos of the 21st century. They can answer tests, but they can't read to learn. They can spew the required facts to get a grade, but they can't digest those same facts and come to a conclusion. Instead of improving teachers (and there's PLENTY of room for improvement,) We tweak tests. If you're not going to do it right because you're looking for an easy shortcut, then you're cheating. And that's what We're doing: Cheating Ourselves.
3) We think "Us" doesn't include anybody else. From "international news" that aren't to "social studies" that focus on only one society (and not even Ours!), We are as ignorant of the the rest of the planet as a Fool is about ethics. (Okay, maybe not that bad, but We're definitely not good at this.) Insularity is a combination of insecurity (fear) and lack of imagination. We don't lack empathy, but Our collective lack of imagination and fear of "strangers" is undoubtedly an obstacle We can--We need--to remove. Quickly.
4) We dream small dreams. Probably a result more than a trait, what with deficient education, insularity and bad examples crowding out imagination. Where's Our NASA? Where's Our Aswan Dam? Where's Our island-airport-in-the-bay? In other words, where's Our Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal, at any level? Some of Us have them, but We're by far the few exceptions. The rest of Us aim for retirement, play the lottery and hope--hope feebly--that somebody, somehow, will give Us the Moon. Makes for an easily-manipulated crowd, that does.
5) We'd rather ignore Our situation than analyze it. Indifference breeds ignorance and We've been breeding that like Viagra-hopped rabbits (pun intended.) Meanwhile, The Fools have used irrelevance to breed indifference to breed ignorance. The way to end this particular abortion is to sterilize The Fools. Literally.
6) We'd rather be safe than sorry. And We're neither.
The Jenius Has Spoken.
04 June 2007
The quote is from James Dietz's Economic History of Puerto Rico and seems as fresh as any of today's pseudo-political analysis.
Except it was written in 1985. And its direct reference is to the 1930s.
How is it possible that Puerto Rico has dragged this status issue to the point where a cogent conclusion about the early years of the 20th century is exactly as valid in the first years of the 21st century?
It cannot be accidental. Nothing like this could come about from mere happenstance. So it must be deliberate. In simple terms, it is to somebody's best interest that this situation remain as it is, a limbo. And though the evidence points strongly at the U.S. of part of A., a solid case can be made that Puerto Rico's best interests were best served by remaining in a political limbo.
Let's make some facts evident:
--Puerto Rico is a property of the United States. Says so from the Treaty of Paris through the Organic Act to Public Law 600 and in every judicial and legislative review of the status issue by the Federal government since 1898.
--Efforts to change this proprietary relationship have been thwarted time and again by three consistent factors: Protection of business interests, unwillingness to modify Constitutional definitions of "citizenship" and "State" and lack of cohesive majority choice in Puerto Rico for any particular status.
--What was at first a solely U.S.-centered "best interests" policy became a "joint best interests" policy that left Puerto Rico, as property, in a position of constantly increasing dependence.
--That dependence has mutated from commercial to political to economic, with each step exponentially increasing the "value"--thus the "best interest"--of limbo over any--any--attempt to "solve" the status issue.
These facts are undeniable. To argue over whether they are true or not is useless: They are simply the facts. What they lead to is also inevitable: The Puerto Rico status issue will not be resolved until the shared level of "best interests" is shattered.
That could take the severe rupture of the economic boondoggle the U.S. and its companies suck out of Puerto Rico to the tune of almost 70% worth of Our economy.
That could take a wave of nationalism that finally grasps the concept of Puerto Rico as a capable, deserving and valuable resource on the gobal stage.
That could take a geopolitical upheaval where U.S. interests are deemed better-served by eliminating the label of "property" on Puerto Rico and deciding--unilaterally--to let My people go, for there's not a snowball's chance in Hell they'd offer Us statehood.
Unless any of the above three changes occurs, discussing, debating, lobbying or posturing on the status issue is exactly as valuable as doing the same for leprechaun rights. Leprechauns don't exist, but you can entertain and distract folks with tales of their antics. The Puerto Rico status issue is equally fanciful, only the antics are carried out by Fools and the pot of gold keeps coming out of Our pockets.
The Jenius Has Spoken.
01 June 2007
I was asked that question many years ago, when I was barely out of college and sitting amongst friends in an IHOP in Hattiesburg. They hadn't seen Me for a year and what little news they had picked up about Puerto Rico had been centered on student violence (riots at the University of Puerto Rico) and political unrest.
(Just in case, IHOP is the International House of Pancakes. Probably has more autonomy than We do.)
My answer then was "The economy." In an inchoate way, I was beginning to see the complex interrelationships of My home turf, and as a young man looking at setting up a career, economics would (should) be a major concern.
Then, to My surprise, I was asked the same question earlier this week, by a young man I barely know, while surrounded by teenagers and 20-somethings I don't know. Same question, different environment, different Me. This time I said "Our attitude."
I wanted to get their attention and I did. I told them We had a negative attitude and they challenged Me on that, so I asked a few of them what their goals were. Most balked: They had no goals. I told them that was a problem of discipline and vision, not attitude. (Debatable, but I was aiming at another point.) The three that gave Me their goals gave Me relatively small ones: buy a new car, get a high-paying job before the age of 30 and pay off student debts.
When I asked them why ther goals weren't bigger, they all gave Me the same look, a What are you talking about? look that I pounced on to "show" them what a negative attitude is. To their credit, they understood almost instantly: Attitude breeds success.
Once aware of their negativity (for any number of empty and a few valid reasons), they went on to draft bigger goals: Establish a million-dollar company in 5 years; transform the use of energy in Puerto Rico; design, build and sell more efficient mini-bikes and scooters for the world's markets. It's possible that they may never reach their new and improved goals, but the attitude change will make a difference in how they act and view their role in Life from now on.
None of the problems We face is insurmountable; in fact, very few are actually difficult. It boils down to attitude as the first step. Do We really want to act to solve these problems? If the answer becomes--yes, becomes--"yes", then We can proceed and find a way to make a positive change happen. But if Our attitude remains stuck in "ho-hum" territory, then We simply will have to continue living in a sub-standard present, stumbling on the path to a declining Future.
So this time, instead of really answering "What would I change about Puerto Rico?" I answered "What would I change about Me?" And lo and behold, the answer to both questions is the same.
The Jenius Has Spoken.